Boris chickens out of chat with The-Latest

Marc Wadsworth

Embattled Boris Johnson has chickened out of an interview with The-Latest. The Mayor of London's cowardly decision comes at a time when he needs all the friends he can get.

In May, after his surprise election, I attempted to discuss race equality and other important issues for the capital city with Boris. But such was the fear in the Conservative Party that the gaffe-prone politician would put his foot in it, I had to first meet with his chief political adviser, James McGrath.

The tactic back-fired when Australian immigrant McGrath responded clumsily to a comment I put to him from Black columnist Darcus Howe that the election of the right-winger Boris as Mayor might just trigger a mass exodus of older Caribbeans back to the islands from which they came. He retorted:  "Well, let them go if they don't like it here." McGrath was sacked for the remark which had chilling echoes of the infamous racist Enoch Powell about it.

Then Johnson's deputy mayor for young people Ray Lewis, a Black suited and booted combination of Arthur Daley and Walter Mitty, was forced to resign following another scandal in which he was exposed as a liar. But, when you look at why Labour took power in 1997 in a public backlash against Conservative Party sleaze - remember discredited senior MPs Neil Hamilton, Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer - Lewis should not be a surprise.

Still The-Latest wanted to give Mayor Boris a fair hearing and so I emailed his press chief Guto Harri this week to arrange an interview. Here is Harri's reply:

Dear Marc

I hope it wont surprise you to be told that the Mayor has a long long
list of interview requests, and that it is impossible for him to do
every one. He has and continues to do as many as possible, but is
focussed on those which reach the largest audiences on a regular basis.

We are systematically trying to get him to different parts of London to
talk to local papers and radio stations. He also does a lot with
specialist magazines, the relevant trade and the BME (Black and Minority Ethnic)

and LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual) press.
You might have seen his recent interviews in New Nation, The Voice, Pink
News etc

I regret to inform you that your website is not high on this list. This
is not to say that the Mayor will never be interviewed by you, but I
would not expect him to do so on (sic) the near future.

It seems to me however that Richard Barnes is the Deputy best placed to
answer your specific queries at this point in time, and hope that you
will appreciate me passing on your details to him

All the best

Guto Harri
Mayor's Communications Director

The-Latest has criticised Mayor Boris's buffoonery when he described Black children as "picaninnies" and lampooned Africans for their "water melon smiles". But we have never joined the attack when his opponents have called him racist.

PS: Boris, we are prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt if you stop hiding behind your spin doctors and talk to our readers. Come on, you're a seasoned journalist and politician. Tell your nanny-like minders where to get off and let's have a chat.

Copyright  © 2008 The-Latest Ltd.


20 Responses to "Boris chickens out of chat with The-Latest"


Tue, 07/08/2008 - 22:20
<p>Boris :- Good Morning</p><p>The-Latest print &#39;Boris says it&#39;s time for bed&#39;&nbsp; </p>
chris's picture


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 08:06
<p><strong><u>Chris Gaynor</u></strong></p> I've always liked Boris Johnson, but if he's not prepared to chat, it just shows you how power corrupts absolutely, when someone cannot face their critics, and put the record straight about his so far cocked up administration. What a great picture by the way!


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 20:17
<p>&#160;</p><p>OK then Chris. I&#39;d like you to contact Downing Street now and demand a conference with Gordon Brown. If he says no, I&#39;d then like you to denounce Brown as being totally corrupted by power. </p><p>&nbsp; This is one website that is filled mostly by pretty anonymous people, myself included. Quite why it thinks it should have quick access to a major politician is quite beyond me. &nbsp; </p>


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 12:58
<p>Nice to see that &quot;citizen journalism&quot; is at the forefront of the news stories, getting us the latest scoops and providing the hard-hitting quality journalism we don&#39;t get from the mainstream media.</p><p>So - rather than write anything that anyone actually wants to <em>read</em> - instead you spend five minutes with Photoshop and publish a crude picture of the mayor of London with a chicken&#39;s head pasted onto him. &quot;Seamless&quot;, as the members of might say. <br /></p><p>How about the barely-literate majority of children who are playing journalist on this site actually write something worth reading? There are plenty of BNP scum peddling their racist agenda around London to give you enough material for the next twenty years. The only writing of note which has arisen from your so-called &quot;scoop&quot; (Man Says Something Which Might Be Interpreted As Racist If We Try Hard Enough) is Will Self&#39;s insightful article for This Is London. <br /></p><p>But rather than regret that Political Correctness has reached such a degree that Boris has felt the need to sack his aide for not been on his guard enough to anticipate your attack, you just carry on milking the same non-story for the small group of adoring, single-digit IQ bearing nincompoops who think a picture of a man with a chicken&#39;s head is side-splittingly hilarious. </p><p>This is piss-poor scumbag reporting at its very worst. Why don&#39;t you get your box of crayons and go away and draw willies until you have got it out of your system? Maybe then you can come back and start talking to the grown-ups again. </p><p>In the mean time, here&#39;s an idea for your next Photoshop kludge: picture of Marc Wadsworth flogging a dead horse. <br /></p>


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 13:49
<p>I don&#39;t believe what I wrote was biased in the slightest. I expressed my opinions - as you say, this is supposed to be a democracy. I didn&#39;t say you ought to be banned from publishing this content. I said that I thought it was rubbish.</p><p>I do have a sense of humour. I think a lot of the things Boris has done in the past are hilarious, and some are dangerously close to being bigoted. But I also think that anyone who claims to be writing &quot;serious journalism&quot; should probably steer clear of desperately scanning the semantics of an interview to look for &quot;racism&quot; (e.g. the fact that calling a black man &quot;sunshine&quot; might be racist - good lord, I had to do several Google searches before I worked that one out).</p><p>And as far as high-handedness and absurdity is concerned - well, given the possible two choices as to why the Mayor of London doesn&#39;t have time to talk to you:</p><p>a) because you&#39;re an almost unheard-of site whose only significant act so far has been to cause the sacking of a member of his staff by wilfully misinterpreting his comments</p><p>&nbsp; or</p><p>b) Because you have something really, really important to write about him and he is scared of the truth about him emerging through your rapier wit and cutting journalism (rather than pictures of him with a chicken&#39;s head)</p><p>&nbsp; ...then I know which I would choose. Perhaps he thinks Being Mayor is more valuable than helping you with your web articles?</p><p>Just because you disagree with me, it doesn&#39;t mean I was wrong to post. I&#39;m surprised a proud member of a democracy such as yourself can&#39;t appreciate that.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>P.S. When you say &quot;many&quot; of the people of this democracy are members of this site, I think you may be mis-using the word slightly. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Edit: You&#39;ve added to your post since I responded. For the record, I didn&#39;t talk of any &quot;magnificent scoops&quot; - I was commenting on the fact that you think this Boris no-story is a scoop. And as for &quot;Walter Mitty&quot; - I&#39;m not sure where you are going with this. I suspect you read the article which described Boris&#39; deputy mayor as a Walter Mitty character and you liked the name. If you re-read what I wrote I think you won&#39;t find any &quot;figments of my imagination&quot; in it. <br /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
chris's picture


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 13:25
<p><strong><u>Chris Gaynor</u></strong></p> Why exactly is this childish journalism? Unless I am mistaken, there is the occasional comic headline that comes out of the Murdoch dominated press which, is probably a lot worse than this. And if you read the piece in full, you will notice that the article is balanced by publishing the reasons why Johnson wasn&#39;t prepared to be interviewed by the-latest. Also, the reason Johnson won&#39;t speak to a citizens&#39; website like this is because he knows that he may put his foot in it again and who knows, his neck maybe on the line, next time. As far as I&#39;m concerned, I would much rather read the articles on this site than some of the drivel that oozes out of the Murdoch press! And does anyone know on this site where I can get a copy of photoshop at a knock down price?


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 13:54
<p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><u>Weirdbeard</u></strong> </p><p>I&#39;m not sure why you &quot;headline&quot; all of your posts with a fanfare, but I&#39;ve done the same, just in case it&#39;s a social nicety of this site which I hadn&#39;t fully absorbed. Wouldn&#39;t want to offend.</p><p>I don&#39;t disagree that there are comic headlines far worse than this from the Murdoch press. That&#39;s why I don&#39;t read &quot;those newspapers&quot;.&nbsp; </p><p>I did read the piece in full, and I&#39;ve just re-read it to make sure. As far as &quot;balance&quot; goes, I don&#39;t think you need to worry about achieving balance in a piece aimed at lampooning the Mayor - it&#39;s a bit of a waste of time. I think the real balance to be achieved goes beyond publishing politically correct responses from the mayoral camp. You and I both know that what they really want to say is, &quot;we had to sack someone because we want to be PC and you shafted us by misinterpreting his remarks&quot;.</p><p>I simply <strong>do not</strong> believe that Boris is afraid of you, or anyone else - even if he should be. Look at his past. You&#39;re deluding yourself to think that you&#39;re doing the public a service by ferreting away at him over an issue which was created by a writer on this very website.</p><p>All this smacks of is desperate self-promotion on the part of this website, and does no service to the cause of racial equality. <br /></p><p>&nbsp;</p>


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 14:23
<p>I enjoy the interaction. It makes a change from hanging around with all my neo-nazi friends on the BTP website. All they do is just post back knee-jerk reactionary comments in response to my questions. Hang on - that sounds familiar... </p><p>I&#39;m still amazed to see that you think I am a biased right-winger. I suspect you skim-read too much, which would explain why you think this article was such a journalistic coup.<br /></p><p>&quot;Just a friendly piece of advice&quot;, eh? What&#39;s next - a brick through my window in the dead of night with a note wrapped around it saying, &quot;stay away from our website if you know what&#39;s good for you&quot;?</p><p>&nbsp; It was silly of me to expect intelligent debate, I suppose... but then, what, exactly, are your &quot;qualifications&quot;, tearjerker? <br /></p><p>&nbsp;</p>


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 15:09
I think you meant BEAR, not BARE.<br />


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 15:26
No need to waste single quotes on my name, by the way. Call me &quot;beard&quot;, if it saves typing.


Thu, 07/10/2008 - 09:50
Kind of makes my earlier points, that.<br />


Wed, 07/09/2008 - 16:56
<font face="Arial" size="2"><font face="Arial" size="2"><p>Marc Wadsworth,</p><p>Anyone who wishes to see my opinions of the McGrath affair can find it quite easily through this site. In the past, I criticised you for a distorted headline which was represented as being an actual quote from McGrath when your own transcripts say otherwise. I felt it was a tactic worthy of one of the scumbag tabloids and then this headline and accompanying image. </p><p>So let&#39;s dissect this piece of journalistic brilliance then. </p>&quot;<em><span>The-Latest has criticised Mayor Boris&#39;s buffoonery when he described Black children as &quot;pickannies&quot; and lampooned Africans for their &quot;water melon smiles&quot;. But we have never joined the attack when his opponents have called him racist.&quot;</span></em><span> </span><span><p>Right! So Boris can use words like &#39;pickannies&#39; and make comments pertaining to a certain creed of person and not be accused of being racist by you and yet James McGrath says something that&#39;s actually not specific to a particular creed at all and you cry racism and he gets sacked! </p><p>&quot;PS: Boris, we are prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt if you stop hiding behind your spin doctors and talk to our readers. Come on, you&#39;re a seasoned journalist and politician. Tell your nanny-like minders where to get off and let&#39;s have a chat.&quot;</p><p>Woooo, that&#39;s fightin&#39; talk! Marc Wadsworth, the Man with No Name, coming to clean up a town near you! Where was this attitude when you met with McGrath? As I recall from the original article, McGrath asked you this question:</p><p>&quot;So, what do you want from Boris?&quot;</p><p>Your reply was &quot;Nothing&quot;. </p><p>Now you&#39;re making the case that Boris is in fact being a giant wuss and you&#39;re demanding him to come out and speak. I&#39;ve said this before and I&#39;ll say it again: you had an opportunity to grill James McGrath. You failed. You wussed out. You could have grilled that guy over his political upbringing and nailed him but instead you went for the cheap soundbite (and damn that soundbite sounds even less racially charged compared to comments by Lord Dixon Smith in the last 48 hours). Now you&#39;r acting like the lone gunman around town and you&#39;re making demands. Throw in the poultry reference and accompanying image and you have a journalistic standard which rivals the News of the World for inane posturing with dismal content. </p><p>I am a believer in change and for the eradication of discrimination of all types. However, I am not someone who believes you should lower yourself to the standards of the opposition to do it. </p></span></font></font>


Thu, 07/10/2008 - 00:49
<p>Put down the crack pipe. Breathe deeply. I have never voted Conservative in all of my 30 years of existence. At national level I&#39;ve voted Liberal Democrat. At local level I&#39;ve voted Green and for an independent candidate running on an environmental platform. The fact that I criticise both Labour and this website is no indication that I&#39;m some blue-blooded buffoon who&#39;s longing for a return to the Thatcher days. </p><p>If you&#39;re now back to a more engaging level of thought, you might want to consider my final sentence from my first comment, namely &quot;However, I am not someone who believes you should lower yourself to the standards of the opposition to do it&quot;. Coulson&#39;s introduction to high power within the Conservative Party shows precisely how the next election will be fought and the dynamically shitty state of British politics in general. It is therefore even more important that websites like this operate in a manner that does not ape the redtop tabloid filth. </p>


Thu, 07/10/2008 - 09:55
Tearjerker, is it possible that you might be falling into the dangerous trap of assuming that everyone who disagrees with is a rabid Tory? Once might be considered a mistake, but twice in a row makes you start to look like a one-trick pony.